School Report Cards and Poverty

Every public school in Wisconsin recently received a state report card. These results were also published in local newspapers. The ratings aggregate a multitude of measures, including but not limited to student growth, student achievement and attendance rate.

All of our area schools’ scores were then sorted by what level of performance they achieved (significantly exceeds expectations, exceeds expectations, meets expectations, meets few expectations). What I did was average each schools’ free and reduced rate for each level of performance. Free and reduced rates tell us what percentage of our families live in poverty. Here are the results:

Schools that Significantly Exceeded Expectations: 26.7% free/reduced
Schools that Exceeded Expectations: 39.7% free/reduced
Schools that Met Expectations: 48% free/reduced
Schools that Met Few Expectations: 70% free/reduced

I was sadly not surprised by these results.

So what do these report cards tell us: Levels of achievement or levels of poverty?

Author: Matt Renwick

Matt Renwick is an 18-year public educator who began as a 5th and 6th-grade teacher in Rudolph, WI. He now serves as an elementary principal for the Mineral Point Unified School District ( Matt also teaches online graduate courses in curriculum design and instructional leadership for the University of Wisconsin-Superior. He tweets @ReadByExample and writes for ASCD ( and Lead Literacy (

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